In the market for a budget-price wide-screen LCD?
Wide-screen LCDs are becoming a must-have, especially for media enthusiasts and gamers. For more work-focused users, wide-aspect LCDs offer enough screen space to accommodate multiple windows at once. Though the 19-inch ViewSonic VA1912wb looks modest, it packs a punch with above-average performance, full-sounding built-in speakers, and a very sweet $349 price. The 20-inch wide-screen costs nearly $200 more, and the standard-aspect 19-inch competition, such as the and the can't match the VA1912wb's performance, and they offer less screen real estate. You can find better performance, however, in the and more adjustability in the , but neither offer the bang-for-the-buck of the VA1912wb.
The ViewSonic VA1912wb's design doesn't stray far from the matte-black case that is standard issue for budget monitors; the only touch of color comes from the eight too-shiny, chrome adjustment buttons on the bottom bezel. The large, elliptical base isn't heavy enough to keep the display from wobbling when you make even minor panel adjustments. Flexibility isn't this monitor's strong suit: the panel tilts 25 degrees back and 5 forward but offers no swivel, pivot, or height adjustment. The panel is suspended nearly four inches above the desktop--a good fixed height for most users. The display accepts DVI-D and VGA inputs (both cables are included), but it's a tight squeeze to attach the connectors, and the only cable-management feature is a plastic cover that snaps over the connector area. We approve of disguising the plugs, but we wish ViewSonic had added a clip to tidy up the cables.
When it comes to adjusting the image, the onscreen menu (OSM) is very easy to navigate, and the control panel offers all the buttons you need. There's a dedicated mute button for the built-in speakers, but we wish that ViewSonic had also made the up/down arrow keys double as volume keys instead of quick-launch keys for brightness and contrast adjustments. As it is, you have to go through the OSM to adjust the volume. The speakers themselves sound quite full for built-ins, but their maximum volume is not terribly loud.